The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States and Google announced that they are launching a pilot program to digitize historic films from the National Archives and make them available online for free.
The project aims to enable both researchers and the general public to access a collection of historic movies and documentaries from the National Archives. The movies will be available both via Google Video at http://video.google.com/nara.html and on the National Archives website at http://www.archives.gov.
The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States is an independent federal agency. Its role is to be the nation's record keeper and to serve the American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of the US Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage.
"This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archive without walls," said Professor Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, in Google's press release. "For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the Internet."
The pilot program features 103 films from the audiovisual collections preserved at the Archives. Highlights of the pilot project include:
- The earliest film preserved in the National Archives holdings by Thomas Armat, "Carmencita - Spanish Dance," featuring the famous Spanish Gypsy dancer, 1894
- A representative selection of U.S. government newsreels, documenting World War II, 1941-45
- A sampling of documentaries produced by NASA on the history of the spaceflight program
- Motion picture films, primarily from the 1930s, that document the history and establishment of a nationwide system of national and state parks.
- The National Archives and Google are currently exploring the possibilities of expanding the on-line film collection and making the Archives extensive textual holdings available via the Internet.